Japan-Based Drone Startups To Keep An Eye On

Drone startups that are taking Japan’s automation technologies to the next level

A man holding a drone in his hands
A man holding a drone in his hands
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As “automation” becomes a buzzword in many industries, a lot of startups are focusing on this perspective area. Many of them are turning to drones, finding more and more new areas or application for this technology. The use of drones is becoming more widespread in Japan ranging from chasing the employees doing overtime work out of the office to inspecting high-voltage power lines and sewers. Here are a few noteworthy startups worth looking out for.

Autonomous Control Systems Laboratory (ACSL)

Born in the University of Chiba, ACSL is one of the most popular drone startups in Japan. The company is run by the university professor Kenzo Nonami and promotes the use of autonomous drones in various spheres, including delivery service and building inspection. The drone manufacturer recently received a US $19 million cash grant from the Drone Fund in cooperation with such well-known institutions as the University of Tokyo, Mirai Creation Fund, Mizuho Capital, and iGlobe Partners to further develop its technologies. Rakuten, Japan’s famous e-commerce platform, has also contributed to the company funding.

ACSL’s Mini-Surveyor line of multi-copters is one of its bestsellers – it has already been used in a number of commercial projects in the Japan.

The drone startups are creating and occupyng their own niches very fast: for example, they provide different services in agriculture, infrastructure, road maintenance, and even staff operations.


As automation becomes one of the keywords in Japanese operations, another drone startup in the field has reportedly received funding from Drone Fund, Aerial Lab Ventures and Orso, Inc. this year. Liberaware specializes in technology that makes it possible for drones to operate without the GPS signal. Their drones can also fly in narrow spaces and are able to work automatically without human supervision.


Skyseeker is another drone startup that has attracted a sizeable funding of US $895 000 for its technology development. The company specializes in developing drones for disaster prevention and wildlife research. However, with the new funding, the startup is taking on the new possibilities and problems: it is going to work on drones for sewer and water services as well as for the agricultural industry.

Blue Innovation

Blue Innovation came up with the T-Frend – a drone that is designed to chase away staff working late at night after the office hours. It is meant to discourage overtime work by flying around the office and playing loud music. T-Frend is also taking photos of everyone who did not leave in order to later inform the management and provide the proofs. However, T-Frend is just one of many notable drones by Blue Innovation. Some models of this brand are capable of flying in the dark  without radio or GPS signals.

Drone startups are attracting a lot of interest because of the possibilities they provide for application in various industries. These technologies can automate numerous services making on-site manual operations by humans a thing of the past. Have you ever dealt with services that involved drones? Which other areas of our life do you think will come through automation by drones? We would love to hear about your experience and thoughts in the comment section below.

Today’s “otsumami” – a bite size snack:

Drones startups are attracting a lot of funding from investors in Japan because of their ability to enhance the automated delivery of products and services.

What do you think?


Written by Joel Devidal

Joel Devidal is a serial entrepreneur and long time fan of Japan, it's unique lifestyle, culture and delicious food . He has grown several profitable businesses during his 20+ years in small business and IT.

He focuses primarily on Japanese online marketing and Internet retail industries, investing and advising startups wanting to enter the Japanese market.

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